Ocean Energy Devices Deployed in Two Oceans

Ocean energy is making slow but steady progress. New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) this week announced deployments of two of its ocean energy devices in two oceans, at sites off Hawaii and New Jersey, USA.

The Hawaii system is in connection with OPT’s ongoing contract from the US Navy, and the New Jersey system is under a contract from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU). “Scale-up with more PowerBuoys is continuing, and we have appreciated the ongoing support of the Navy, as well as the Congressional delegations of Hawaii and New Jersey,” said George W. Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of OPT. “We believe this is the first time that a wave power company has had multiple devices simultaneously operating in the water.” Each uses the company’s patented PowerBuoys. The company’s website is somewhat vague on the operation of the devices but they appear to harness ocean energy through a the mechanical movement of a cylinder within a mechanical column. Each unit operates like an individual buoy and the thinking is that an entire series of these units could be strung together to harness a commercial-size amount of energy. The Hawaii project is for the building of a wave power station off the Marine Corps Base on Oahu at Kaneohe Bay. Deployment of the PowerBuoy was supported by local dive and workboat subcontractors. Rated at 40 kW power capacity, the system will undergo monitoring and systems integration during in-ocean operation. The PowerBuoy is located approximately one kilometer off the coast, in 30 meters of water. Data gathered from the performance of this system will support ongoing engineering of the next generation of PowerBuoys. The company’s contract with NJBPU is under its Renewable Energy and Economic Development (REED) Program. The New Jersey PowerBuoy will be used for marketing of OPT’s advanced-design PowerBuoy to prospective partners for the building of a megawatt-level OPT power station off the coast of New Jersey. The advanced PowerBuoy PB40 design allows efficient performance in regions of wide tidal variation, as occurs in much of Europe. The PB40 is rated at 40 kW power capacity, and was transported to the dockside by standard flatbed vehicle, and towed to the ocean site by tugboat. Since deployment, the system has successfully withstood wave and wind forces generated by Hurricane Wilma, according to the company. “With the New Jersey PowerBuoy successfully deployed and producing power, we are commencing discussions with certain utilities with a view to the next phase of scale-up to a megawatt-level power station,” Taylor said. “The REED Program is indicative of the strong commitment which the State of New Jersey and the Board of Public Utilities have to renewable energy, and we look forward to using this initial project as a springboard to serving the New Jersey area grid.”

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